Not Until You Have Nothing

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Like most people, I had a very rough start in my career. I did not enjoy my job until quite recently.  I spent the first few years having no direction and worry about job security, nasty bosses, steep learning curves, and very overwhelming work load.

As the years went by, I started working with amazing and inspiring people. My big big break did not happen until I was blessed with good managers that not only gave me good guidance but was inspiring and instrumental to my success.

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So how did I survive those long hard years of struggle?

There were two statements that I held close to my heart during those difficult years and they are “The best is yet to come” and “It keeps getting better”.

I started drawing strength and motivation from past bad experiences and I found myself saying “this is not as bad as when I was working with…” while recalling difficult situations that caused me to quit the previous job.

Through time and with each new career move, things got better and better.

I am now convinced that it is natural for us to keep on searching for betterment in life. But in our journey in seeking happiness and success, we tend to make the wrong decisions that caused us much grievances. While curious to know what the future holds and what fortune new opportunities might bring, we get distracted and become ungrateful with what we have already achieved and attained.

Certain decisions may cause us to lose everything that we have built and achieved. That is when we look back in our lives and start to recollect what we miss most – the regrets. But there are lessons to learn in such situations as well so that when something bad happens we can recall them and be appreciative that our current predicaments are not as bad.

I guess that is exactly why we all need some tough times in our lives lest we forget what we must appreciate. Every situation has a role to play in our lives be it good or bad. The bad reminds us of all the good that we have and the good reminds us of all the bad we have gone through. Tough journey towards victory only makes the victory sweeter.

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If you are currently facing difficult situations, I hope you will hold onto faith knowing that it will only get better…

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At Face Value

We are very familiar with the saying “never judge a book by its cover” but because the world is so well trained to sugar coat things, we often find ourselves taking things at face value.

I believe I have mentioned in one of my previous posts that I dislike following the bandwagon. In other words, I prefer  to chart my own unique course in life.

I recently found myself interested in getting one of those funky Bluetooth wireless headphones because I have started finding the cables cumbersome.

As I went through the reviews and aisles at the store, I came across the big names and found their prices impossible for my budget. Then I came to an unassuming corner at one of the aisles where the House of Marley range of products were displayed. I am not sure if you would agree but I feel that we are somehow taught to think that there is a direct correlation between price and quality. I do not deny that quality is a reflection for the price one pays but I am also opined that not all affordable items are inferior.

House of Marley Rebel BT

I picked up this Rebel BT headphones and thought to myself it was a perfect fit budget wise. Please do not get me wrong – this is not a product review post. The point that I would like to put across is that, if I have been a brand royalist when choosing my new headphones, I might have easily overlooked this “underdog”. One of the reviews pointed out that the over emphasized bass sound as the biggest con but the music app on my mobile comes with equalizer feature that solved the bass problem easily (increasing the treble). I am glad to say that I now have a travel companion in Marley.

On the same note, I would also like to share what I witnessed after dinner last evening.

As I was walking to the metro station last evening, I saw what will remain on mind forever. An image of two people sitting on the floor playing a game of chess – a student and a homeless man.

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It was to me very profound and an unlikely combination. Perhaps it is very common here but extremely rare where I came from.

You see, our world has grown to be very selfish and everything is about oneself first before the other. We have grown to constantly alleviate our status while belittling others to further exert our superiority. In that process, we have become extremely judgmental especially in defining success over failure.

This image of a student playing a game of chess with a homeless man is for me the epitome of living life without barriers. Such a beautiful expression of equality and diversity. We are all made to be unique and each and everyone of us have a role to play in this great big world.

If only we stop and care to take notice what is beyond “the cover” and “at face value”, I am sure you would agree that God have indeed made an amazing world.

Hope you enjoyed reading my randomness today…

Define Your Hurdles

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How often have you found yourself shutting your mind to the difficulties you face in life? You kept avoiding a particular subject, responsibility, decision, and action just to realize it keeps coming back at you.

I woke up today having a vague idea for today’s post and to be honest, I have forgotten how I should articulate it anymore. I wanted to write about how I would approach conquering the difficulties of life so that whenever I am faced with such situations, I will be able to revisit this post to find enlightenment.

But I guess I should begin with the obvious – defining the problem.

To take on and beat your enemy, you must first give it a face and acknowledge its existence. Life can be filled with challenges whether it is something related to your job or on a personal level.

I am currently standing at a crossroad of my life where a crucial decision is needed. The self-doubt has started emerging at the back of my mind causing me to question my own competencies. I am trying to define and give a clear definition for this negative thought. It is not always a physical difficulty but it can also be a psychological one. How should we convince ourselves mentally that things are not and how we perceive them especially when they are external elements, variables, and parameters involved. One such concern is identifying the way I am going to handle the challenges that will come my way for the decision that I am about to make.

For example, during the course of the day at work, I get questions that have caught me off guard that I was unable to answer immediately. I found myself under the pressure of instant gratification from the person seeking answers. The need for an instantaneous response can be overwhelming. I concur with the quote made famous by Stephen Covey, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.

As far as interaction with others is concern, I am not guilty of listening with the intent of understanding. But I am guilty when it comes to listening to myself and I believe many of you can relate to that as well.

We tend to avoid the difficult dilemmas in our own lives by just brushing it off and hope it goes away somehow. We never ever quiet down to define these challenges clearly and take them head on.

Throughout the past few years, I have challenged the status quo in my life. This week, I learned something invaluable around the topic of challenging the status quo. Difficult situations are always disruptive to our comfort and we are usually untroubled and find status quo standing between us and the need for change brought about by difficult situations.

I think we really need to start re-evaluate and re-think how we handle situations. Firstly, we convince ourselves that we do not need to response immediately and secondly, with the time we are entitled to, we are able to give better thoughts and considerations into our response. Ultimately, we will be able to offer better resolutions and ideas for the questions, issues, and problems thrown at us.

I hope you enjoy reading my randomness today.

Keep Going

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“Keep going”

I have seen a lot of motivational memes lately with the two words above – Keep Going. It can be quite frustrating when not knowing where we are heading with our lives seemed to be the challenge we are faced with at the moment. How do we actually find our purpose in all that is going on in our lives?

On the other hand, we commemorated the World Mental Health Day on 10th October 2016. If you have been reading and seen numerous posts regarding suicides and the likes on your social media feed, it is because of all the awareness  that is being raised in conjunction with World Mental Health Day.

For me personally, after a year of “running” and hard work, there is a period of downtime that I find it hard to get used to. Throughout the first 11 months of the year, we sprinted, kept busy, and out of a sudden, there is this time that is all quiet.

Throughout the year we have different goals to achieve in our tasks but as the fiscal year draw to a close, everyone seemed to have dropped everything and gone off to have their well deserved break.

It is during times like these that we might feel empty – there is no more goals and purposes in the horizon. We might even feel a little inadequate and incompetent. The mind is suddenly idled with nothing much to think about. Have you ever felt this way?

And when the new year starts to pick up again, we struggle to get the sluggish brain restarted and that’s when it is important to “keep going”. We have to remind ourselves again that in order for us to attain what is desired, it is very important to put it into motion. The proverb “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” is indeed describes it accurately.

In between going into the downtime and getting out of it. Some of us may start to feel a little depressed and some even more extreme – suicidal due to the feeling of hopelessness, purposeless, incompetent, and inadequate.

I recently read an article regarding the 26% suicidal rate in young working adults in a particular country citing their jobs being the cause of their desperation. It made me wonder if there was a huge disparity in the job markets and career expectations.

When I first started off my career, there were a few hits and misses. Because we spend most of our lives at work to provide for ourselves and our family, it is difficult not to take one’s job seriously. And that’s when it becomes a challenge. My first few jobs were disastrous because I did not have a clear vision of my purpose. Very often, I was caught in between very difficult situations and deciding whether to quit and at the same time accuse myself of being weak – the guilt trip. There were many doubtful moments – whether I was making the right decisions and also the dilemma of wanting to just keep going even though it was clear that I was very unhappy. To make matters worse, in one of my jobs, I was with a team that discusses nothing but quitting on a daily basis. In this case and sadly, the manager was the main reason why everyone wanted to leave.

In the end, I can only conclude that difficult managers, the nature of the job, and whatever the reason it is that makes people dislike their jobs are not the root causes of people feeling lousy. These are merely symptoms of the underlying problem.

It all boils down to just one thing – PURPOSE.

A person with a clear vision will have a purpose – that is to work towards achieving the vision. A good leader will gear his or her people towards one common goal. In large projects, leaders will be able to break things down into modules and allow his team to achieve each module in sequence. Collectively, the project will be delivered efficiently. Every team member will have a sense of purpose going into the project and when it ends, they will be able to feel proud of their achievements whether it is as an individually or as a team.

I know that there are many factors that cause one to contemplate suicide but I am just thinking out loud and wondering if it is the lack of purpose that drives people to such desperation.

My favorite quote by Albert Einstein that I live by is his definition of insanity and I quote, “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. I believe when we are trapped in a certain thought process, without clarity and alternative perspectives, it can be very crippling and frustrating at the same time. In fact, our minds have the tendency to suggest what it knows best given its familiarity. As we grow, our minds are like a sponge absorbing all the experiences, the likes and dislikes, the pains, the knowledge, and etc. We do make our best decisions based on past experiences be it good or bad. In other words, we could be stuck in a particular thought process for a very long time based on its capacity to reason at any specific time. Every situation we face serves as an opportunity for us to learn new experiences and we should be bold to try out new solutions to obtain different results.

If you look at wild animals caged in the zoo, you will notice their very peculiar behavior of circling and pacing around in an almost perfect path and rhythm. I believe that they have lost their natural purpose – hunting, foraging, and etc causing them to exhibit such behavior in sheer boredom.

As for me, I am trying to convince myself to enjoy the downtime and spend some time focusing on things which are out of my work routine like writing this piece to share and express my thoughts. I have learned that the best way to break out of the negative thoughts when it starts is to distract myself by doing or seeing happy and positive things.

“Keep going”

Just a side note: If you are feeling a little depressed please reach out for help. There are many ways in which you can seek help. You can reach out to a counseling psychologist (example – http://lepak.com/therapy.html). There are some who practices over the internet using various on-line chats and collaboration tools such as Skype so location and timezone should not be an issue.

Drama

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Thanks to Hollywood, most of us has became suckers for over dramatic scenes. We doubt the 10 commandments unless we witness first hand God throwing the tablets down from Heaven or shooting lazer beam like lighting to etch the commandments on boulders.
We so often overlook and take for granted the simplest of miracles that remind us of God’s existence. If you have lost someone to heart failure, you would understand how even a heart beat in itself is a miracle.

I stay awake sometimes fearing not waking up the next day and scenes of how my family would be after my premature departure play over and over like an never ending roll of film thus acknowledging how being alive is indeed a miracle and a gift from God.

And then there are the struggles within ourselves with regards to the realities of life. Where all these spiritualities fit in our daily lives?

Where are the miracles when we are running late on datelines and the times we were unable to find solutions to our tasks at work?

Where is God in all of these?

The conversation I had with my wife this morning was around mental health. Not that either one of us is going psycho but more towards the community at large because of the many advertisement billboards we noticed the past few days indicating the current need for mental therapy. Depression is indeed on the rise.

A priest had recently shared his reflection regarding faith and in the article he mentioned about how the church is currently struggling with attendance and etc. I concur with his thoughts and wanted to read more of his sharings so I pulled up his social media feed. One particular post caught my attention and it was along the lines of him accusing those who are unrepentent being liken to pagans. Ironically, I did not appreciate and disagree with the judgmental tone on that post.

The problem with the earth being round is that, we move in circles and there are many vicious cycles we get caught up in. I am sure if you ask those who have quit going to church for their reason of absence, they will tell you that being judge is one of the reasons. Even taking offense of one’s absence is being judgmental as well.

This year, the church declared and celebrates “The Year of Mercy”. Such a tough year to live by the faith if being merciful means being less judgmental and to love a little more.

Even the bishop has called for the return of those who have left the church. What have we done to bring them “home”?

Or have we pushed them further away?

To break the cycle, we need to do things differently. And yes, we are called to take action because talk is cheap.

Priests have been the support and “mental” pillars for many in the past. We had more priests back then compared to now. They offered compassion, consolation, and counsel for the poor, destitute, depressed, and downtrodden. I believe to a certain extend, they have kept the spiritual and mental health of the community in balance. Today, there is a huge disparity between the ratio of priests to the faithfuls. In other words, it is tough for priests to reach out to everyone.

It is a catch 22 situation because if the church do not make people feel welcome for whatever reason, the less chances we have in nurturing people who are called to serve as priests. Like it or not, it is a numbers game of probability. And not to mention the financial impact suffered by the church because it does not impose the 10% mandatory tithe on its members unlike some denominations.

Again, where is God in all of these?

Is it a case of not unless I see a host of angels coming down from Heaven that I will be merciful and less judgmental?

Or, is it as simple as a heartbeat?

A heartbeat that tells us we are all unique individuals deserving of dignity, respect, and love.

One of my life’s greatest mentors recently shared this quote with me:

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We should not mistaken “faith” as an excuse not to take responsibility for our own lives because it is just that easy and convenient to “blame” God for all that may go wrong. Instead, just do it and pray that all we do will be blessed and materialize.
In this context, the late Rev. Fr. Phillips have lived by example through his actions. He loved and spent every day reaching out to people around him. He found time for everyone. And he made everyone feel welcome.

It need not be dramatic or over exaggerated…

Love, the greatest gift of all…

On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” ~ Mark 2:17